ALLOUEZ — Bishop David Ricken has announced two appointments designed to “continue the progress we have already made as friends and followers of Jesus here in the diocese.”
In a letter, dated May 5, Bishop Ricken announced that Fr. John Girotti, who was appointed moderator of the Curia in late February, will continue to serve in that role, but will also add the responsibilities of vicar general. Fr. Bill O’Brien, a senior priest (retired from parish ministry in 2013) of the diocese, will serve as another vicar general.
“The position of vicar general is tasked primarily with assisting the diocesan bishop in governance of the entire diocese,” explained Bishop Ricken. “The vicar general also serves as the primary representative of the bishop in shepherding the diocese. The moderator of the Curia coordinates those things that pertain to the administration of the diocesan Curia and makes sure that the members of the bishop’s staff properly fulfill the office entrusted to them.”
Fr. Girotti compared serving as moderator of the Curia to that of a chief of staff. Vicar general is more of a canonical or administrative position, he said.
“The role of the vicar general is to represent the bishop in all things and, if necessary, to act in his person,” said Fr. Girotti. “For the most part, it’s the ministry of service to the Lord Jesus, the church and to the bishop. It’s the Curia’s job to assist the bishop in his ministry. The vicar general and moderator’s job is to work closely with the bishop as a person; to be his eyes and ears and his close co-worker.”
Fr. Girotti said the most significant change for him? will be keeping in mind the big picture of the entire diocese.
“I’ve been working very specifically in the field of canon law, very specifically in the field of Catholic Charities, very specifically in the field of the shrine,” he said. “Those are all good, wonderful things. With the new role, I have to broaden that to the whole diocese and that vision.”
While Fr. Girotti will represent Bishop Ricken in the internal matters of the Curia and the inner workings of the church, Fr. O’Brien’s ministry will be external, working in the field with parishes. In recent years, he has served as the regional vicar for Vicariate VII, which covers Door and Kewaunee counties.
“It will be much of the same thing (as a regional vicar), but I now will be traveling around the diocese,” said Fr. O’Brien. “I’ve helped out in lots of places, so going around the diocese is not new for me. I’m happy that I can help out. I don’t mind traveling and I certainly enjoy people.”
The regional vicars of the seven vicariates in the diocese will be the main points of contact for Fr. O’Brien, and he will then extend his ministry to the parishes.
“We will trust that the spirit will take us where we are supposed to be, and it’s kind of exciting to be able to do something like that and meet people,” he said. “It’s for the good of the diocese and I hope that we can contribute to the glory of God in this whole process. There is a lot that needs to be done.”
An underlying mission for Fr. O’Brien he said is to simply let people throughout the diocese know how much Bishop Ricken cares about them.
“Bishop can’t be everywhere. He has an awful lot on his plate. I can only imagine what he’s trying to accomplish,” he said. “If I can go out and say ‘hello’ in his name, that’s what I hope to do.”
In his letter of appointment, Bishop Ricken said, “In all things, the priests who fulfill these two important offices are to make frequent reports to the diocesan bishop regarding the important matters that are to be handled and they are always to act with the intention or mind of the diocesan bishop.” Both vicars general, who will work closely together, will continue to help with weekend Masses. Fr. Girotti serves as priest celebrant for Holy Rosary Parish, New Holstein.
“Pastoral ministry is where my heart is. I’m going to continue that,” he said. “The pastoral ministry for me now as moderator of the Curia will be to all of you now in the Curia. That’s exciting to me as well. I’m honored to have been asked. I look forward to serving the diocese, the people of the diocese, the church and the Lord the best I can.”
Fr. Girotti will mark 19 years as a priest on May 18. He said that he envisioned himself as a parish priest, which was his ministry for many years as a pastor and continues in his ministry in New Holstein. He’s thankful for all his parish experiences.
“When I think of all that, like anything in life, it has been preparation for this new responsibility that I have,” he said. “I could see God’s hand working in all of this and ask for everyone’s prayer that I can serve well.”